Greenwald’s polemical tone does not lessen the disturbing quality of these revelations.

NO PLACE TO HIDE

EDWARD SNOWDEN, THE NSA, AND THE U.S. SURVEILLANCE STATE

Personalized account by Greenwald (With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, 2011, etc.) regarding his encounters with Edward Snowden and their exposure of the National Security Agency's program of “indiscriminate mass surveillance.”

The author’s crisp, comprehensible outrage reflects the profound issues raised by Snowden’s whistle-blowing: “Thanks to Snowden’s bravery…we have an unparalleled firsthand look at the details of how the surveillance system actually operates.” Greenwald first examines how the secretive Snowden reached out to him due to his experience in writing about the NSA. After contentious negotiations with his Guardian editors, Greenwald traveled to Hong Kong to interview Snowden prior to the first articles revealing the NSA’s telephone and Internet monitoring endeavors: “He exuded an extraordinary equanimity when talking about what the US government might do to him,” writes the author. Next, Greenwald delves into a healthy selection of the NSA documents, providing excerpts and interpretations of PowerPoint presentations, training manuals and internal memos that demonstrate the chilling literality of the NSA’s unofficial motto, “Collect It All.” The author portrays the NSA as the epitome of Orwellian overreach, "the definitive rogue agency: empowered to do whatever it wants with very little control, transparency, or accountability." Greenwald then narrates the response to these revelations, which included Snowden and himself being slandered as rabble-rousers. The author’s partner was even detained at Heathrow Airport, while journalists like David Gregory suggested that Greenwald should face criminal charges. He depicts these responses to the legitimacy of his reporting for the Guardian as both menacing and absurd, while the “attacks on Snowden were of course far more virulent.” Greenwald’s caustic assessment of this response, and his close analysis of NSA documents and tactics, go a long way to support his assessment that “[g]iven the actual surveillance the NSA does, stopping terror is clearly a pretext.”

Greenwald’s polemical tone does not lessen the disturbing quality of these revelations.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1627790734

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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